Is subdividing the answer to my tempo problems? – June 2015 Lesson

On July 13, I meant with Michael for another organ lesson at his church. When I arrived there were many cars in the parking lot. I was glad it was not surprise recital day! They were there for a graduation party.

Metronome fail

As I have mentioned previously, I have struggled with having a consistent tempo while playing the fugue from Prelude and Fugue in F Major (BWV 556) credited to J.S. Bach. My plan was to play the piece many times with the metronome to fix my muscle memory issues. My theory was that if I played it enough times with the metronome it would “stick”. Then I would be able to play it fine without the metronome.

Well, that’s not what happened. I recorded the piece at home a few days before the lesson and my tempo was all over the place.

Music staff for subdividing postSubdividing to help fix it

We talked a lot about subdividing. I know how to subdivide. I understand the math behind subdividing. I was not able to explain why I didn’t think to subdivide while practicing. I could have been subdividing with and without the metronome.

Micheal had me play a short section while making a da-da-da-da sound out loud subdividing down to sixteenth notes (each da equaled a sixteenth note). Then when I played this section it was the best he’s every heard me play it. Perhaps, subdividing will be the answer to all my problems!

Subdividing + Metronome

I believe I will need to use subdividing and also the metronome occasionally to correct the tempo once and for all! I still have a habit of slowing done on harder sections when I am subdividing without metronome. I will use the metronome to check myself from time to time.

I am hoping that my next lesson will really be the last time I play he fugue from Prelude and Fugue in F Major for Michael!

Assignment update

All pieces that were on my assignment list going into the lesson remained on the list coming out of the lesson. We did make one adjustment prior to the lesson. No. 2 Cantabile from 3 pieces for organ – FWV 36 by Cesar Franck was taken off the list as it is designed for a 3 manual organ and it was not easy for me to accommodate with only 2 manuals at home. In it’s place I have been assigned Prière à Notre-Dame from Suite Gothique by Léon Boëllmann.

May 2015 Lesson - Home practice vs. performance
August 2015 Lesson - When it feels like you are never going to get it
Website | + posts

Heidi Bender writes about her experiences of learning to play the organ. She started on the adventure in 2009.

She also writes on her website Tons of Thanks, which helps people write thank-you notes. Heidi is also a cat lady who writes at The Joy of Cats.

4 thoughts on “Is subdividing the answer to my tempo problems? – June 2015 Lesson”

  1. Thank you for your posts and emails. I do find them most interesting and look forward to the next instalment.

    Have you tried experimenting with the use of dotted rhythms (eg playing dah-dee-dah-dee-dah-dee-dah instead of dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah as written – or the other way round dee-dah,,,,,, etc). I am finding this most helpful particularly on difficult passages.

    All best wishes and good luck.


    • H Peter,

      I have not tried this method yet, but I think I should! I had a lesson last Saturday and I’m still having tempo/rhythm issues.

      Thanks for reading! I hope to have the next post up within the next few days.



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